Media Health Matters


Grateful for Social Connections 


It’s the season for giving thanks, and this November, we are thankful for social connections of all kinds, whether in person or electronic. Media can affect children’s interpersonal connections in many ways, whether by facilitating those connections (like a video chat) or impeding them (when media distract from in-person interaction). In this issue, we look at how putting media aside can help parents contribute to a young child’s brain architecture (see The Tips), how grandparents can contribute to a grandchild’s gaming plan (see The Q&A), and how one study shows that when parents “friend” their young adult children on social networking sites, they can improve parent/child relationships (see The Research). 


CMCH in the press:

Learn more about the Mediatrician’s recommendations for using media in positive ways in

this article.To learn more about us, visit our Monthly Meet featuring CMCH employee

— The CMCH Media Health Matters Team 


The Tips   

From the Parent Network         


I N F A N T S   &   T O D D L E R S   

  • Cherish those parent-child interactions–your child’s brain does. Baby talk, peek-a-boo, or any of your attentive ‘serve and return‘ interactions are more important than you might think. Reciprocal exchanges such as responding to your child with similar facial expressions and sounds help shape the developing brain. Appropriate adult responses to a baby’s attempts to engage help build a young child’s brain architecture, while absence of these healthy interactions can disrupt learning, behavior, and health.

     According to recent research, common examples of chronic under-stimulation include a lack of daily interactive conversations between a young child and adult caregiver and “frequent periods in which infants or toddlers are left in front of the television for hours at a time.” > More on media 0 – 2

O L D E R   K I D S   
  • Don’t go cold turkey this holiday season–try making incremental media changes. The holidays can provide opportunities for families to share extra leisure time around the house, but TVs on in the background can be a conversation stopper. To increase connections, try taking media influences down a notch. If you have a TV that is on most of the time, try going with volume only or picture only and see whether that affects the quality of your interactions. 

     Also note that sometimes teens feel more comfortable talking when the conversation is buffered by a slight distraction, so instead of a screen-media distraction, consider driving in a car, walking together, or playing board games. When making positive steps toward building parent-child bonds, incremental changes add up over time–patience and gratitude count!


The Q &A         

From the Mediatrician


Dr. Michael Rich encourages families to enjoy their media and use them wisely! Drawing on his experience as a parent, pediatrician, professor, and filmmaker, Dr. Rich shares science-based answers and practical solutions to your questions about media and child health.  


Q: My 10-year-old grandson is playing M-rated video games 

     and his parents don’t seem to mind–what can I do??


A: Your question highlights a very common issue with raising children in today’s digital domain-namely, that different attitudes and rules about media use can be a source of much tension, not only between “digital native” children and their “digital immigrant” parents, but also between parenting and grand-parenting generations…> more 



Do eReaders harm children’s eyes?

A: While there is no evidence that eReaders can have irreversible effects on your children’s vision, many people experience more eyestrain after reading a lighted screen than they do reading a printed page. Do your homework and have your children try out eReader options to choose the right device for your child. > more  



The Research  

From the CMCH Database of Research


  • The Impact of Parents “Friending” Their Young Adult Child on Facebook on Perceptions of Parental Privacy Invasions and Parent-Child Relationship Quality
University-aged students who friended their parents on Facebook reported lower levels of parental conflict and felt closer with their parents >more
  • Internet use and psychological well-being among college students: A latent profile approach

Researchers found an association between using the Internet for social purposes and good psychological well-being in students who did not suffer from problematic Internet use >more